Pro sailing allure on Lake Minnetonka

The possibility of pro sailing on Lake Minnetonka

LAKE MINNETONKA, Minn. - This weekend, professional sailors tested the waters on Lake Minnetonka for the first time.

It's all part of a push to bring an international sailing competition to Wayzata Bay as part of a week-long series of events in 2018. It would also bring international attention to the Twin Cities.

On Sunday, boaters on Lake Minnetonka got a close look, while others watched from the shore.

"No, it’s not something you see on Lake Minnetonka every day," said Tim Baltzer, who took in the view of two, 32-foot-long catamarans on the water.

The vessels are used on the World Match Racing Tour, which is a series of races pitting some of the best international sailors against each other.

“We have events as far away as Perth, Australia. We're in Copenhagen, Denmark, New Port, Rhode Island,” said James Pleasance, director of the World Match Racing Tour. He flew to the Twin Cities from London for the weekend.

The Sweden-based group is in Wayzata for an exhibition weekend to show the community what their sport entails and to draw interest from the community.

Some people like Sam Rogers, who is a professional sailor from Excelsior, don't want it to be the group’s final visit.

“We'd be bringing in the top sailors into our community and some of the coolest boats out there and it’s quite a show,” said Rogers.

The push for the event comes at a time when the City of Wayzata approved a $19 million public-private project to redevelop the waterfront, including restoring the shoreline and creating a walking space.

As teams practice their turns on the lake, they're interested in coming back to the area.

“Our race courses are very small and what the lake allows us to do is just give a fantastic spectator platform here,” said Pleasance.

After talking to people on shore, they're interested in seeing a competition on the lake soon.

“Oh heck yeah, I think it'd be great,” said Baltzer.

Wayzata City Council Member Andrew Mullin says the next step in the process is to secure a corporate sponsor, make a formal bid for the 2018 tour stop and eventually get city approval.


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